Saturday, February 25, 2012

How it all began

Back in the summer of 2000 I was in graduate school at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana studying the history of science when the Beadcats (my sister, Virginia, and her business partner Carol) came to visit Yellow Springs, Ohio.  Now, South Bend is only 5 hours away from my home town of Yellow Springs, so of course I had to come home to see them.  They were en route to Cincinnati, Ohio, where they were going to have a booth at Convergence, the Handweavers Guild of America conference.  They stopped in to see the family and to see if they could get some help at the show.  My brother, John, volunteered to come help them set up, and I volunteered to help them set up and help them man the booth at the show.  It was my first real exposure to fiber, fabric and beads, and I was hooked.

The show was kind of slow, and I remember that the booth next to ours was selling knitting machines and I sat with one just behind me that was set up and running the entire show, and that convinced me I never wanted one in my house.  To make the time pass we decided to do a little bead along, and Carol taught me how to bead a spiral rope.  I picked some colors, and by the time the weekend was over I had made this:

I enjoyed this project so much, that I selected some more flower, leaf and lentil beads as part of my payment for my labors that weekend and made this:

There is a matching bracelet as well as earrings.  I still have the bracelet and I think I still have the earrings, but I gave the necklace to my niece, Erin, when we went to my brother David's wedding in 2004.  I made dresses for my sister, Liz, and her daughter, Erin, for the occasion and the necklace matched Erin's dress.  I was originally only going to loan it to her, but she loved it so much, I just couldn't take it back.

I then decided to make a more dramatic variant, and created this necklace:
The large focal beads are catkins, and I used the medium sized ones to make a pair of matching earrings.

It was at this show that fabric spoke to me for the first time.  I was wandering the floor when I went by the booth for St. Theresa Textile, a Cincinnati store, and a purple batik said "Buy me!"  I walked into the booth, pointed at the fabric in question and said "I have to have that."  I had no idea what I was going to make out of it so I bought 5 yards.  I soon discovered retro patterns and made this dress:
The pattern is Simplicity 9192.  I loved this pattern so much that when I found another really gorgeous fabric I made another one, which I wore yesterday to a retirement luncheon for a colleague (yes, it really was warm enough yesterday to wear this outfit).
The lace shawl is Broderie.

I also bought some fiber at the show, and when I got back to South Bend I bought "How to Knit" by Debbie Bliss and started knitting.  I did knit a scarf out of one of the two yarns that I bought.  I think it is a kid mohair, silk combo.  The yarn is a boucle, so I wanted something simple.  I think I did a moss stitch.  I still need to weave in the ends.
The other yarn I bought is a worsted weight purple/blue variegated wool/silk blend that I will probably knit into a vest.

And so began my love affair with fabric, fiber and beads.

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